Himalayan Project
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Himalayan Project

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"Fantastic vibe"

author: URB Magazine
Himalayan Project- 'Wince at the Sun'- 3.5 stars out of 5. Second Album from improving bi-coastal brothers Chee Malabar and Rainman. Boasting conscious rhymes, wicked humor, the occasional Bjorn Borg reference and a warm, largely sample free sound courtesy the Soulful MP's- think an edgier Chops- these are ones to watch. Any Good? Though they wear their hearts on their sleeves, Chee and Rain are workmanlike lyricists who rarely raise their voices. Sometimes the oomph-lessness doesn’t add up- a title like "Rebel Music" demands a more fist-pumping chorus. But the laidback Himalayans generally strike a fantastic vibe, especially on the hypnotic "Reaction" or the beautifully lilting standout "Postcards from Paradise". -Hua Hsu - Urb Magazine


"Upper Echelon release"

Himalayan Project :: Wince at the Sun :: Red Bench Records as reviewed by Matt Jost With only one album under their belt (2001's "The Middle Passage"), San Francisco rap duo Himalayan Project have already seen their lyrics being cited in dissertations and discussed in college classes focusing on South-Asian identity in America. Their sophomore release, "Wince at the Sun", offers more cultural soul-searching to ponder over, but it's also a healthy plate of homegrown hip-hop. Rhyme-wise it mixes the political sensibilities of groups like dead prez and The Coup with the playful vibe and verbal skill of the Hieroglyphics, while the beats evoke flattering comparisons to aural architects such as Fat Jack or Hi-Tek. Produced by the Soulful MPs (Koozy Kooz and Zeeby Zeeb), "Wince at the Sun" is made up of MPC-processed beats that rival the dynamics of any live band. Willingly disclosing the brands of instruments you feed your sampler with but not going into greater detail than 'stacks of vinyl' when it comes to further ingredients used is another way of saying: We make our own shit. It's this bare hands approach that helps establish this album's unique musical profile. The organic mixture concocted by this producer duo can stack up against any contemporary hip-hop that doesn't succumb to pop aesthetics but instead still adheres to ancient hip-hop ethics. The result may be a bit on the earthy side, almost to the point where the structure is beginning to dry up and risking to come apart, but within the layers of this rich soil of sound, Soulful MPs have planted juicy chunks of soul and funk and weaved enough roots across its fabric to hold everything together. Arguably, the first two tracks are slightly repetitious, but "Wince at the Sun" really comes into its own starting with "Live Drum", a slowly shifting, dense track divided into three parts for three different verses. Then the drum breaks make way for your typical simple MPC beats but they still successfully play support in the brilliant "Postcards from Paradise", an ensemble of bitter-sweet keyboard plinks, thoughfully humming organ-like basslines and Chee Malabar taking us back to his homeland India: "Shantytown'll sprout and stick out like gout Politicians talkin 'bout foward progress now so these beautiful folks had they huts burned to the ground But genius lies in all things simplified They take cow shit, mixed it with grass, a few twigs Exposed to the sun it hardened once plastered to a few bricks Add some sweat and you have a makeshift department Follow the stark stench of human's fuming disease where my peoples get by simply on ritual beliefs It's steeped deep in what the British did before they fleed Left more than just English liquor, cricket, whiskey and tea Psychological damage, famines, but we manage cause even a rose grows through cracks in concrete and a lotus floats hope in the stream of the Ganges" "Postcards from Paradise" is the only song to deal with the Himalayan Project's geographical roots (which lay in India and China, who both border on the Himalayas). Malabar's wistful chorus ("postcards from paradise rarely sent to me / postcards from paradise weren't meant for me") makes it clear that their true origins are but a mere memory to these young men. More likely, you'll find the Himalayan Project discuss America's role in the world and their roles as Asian-Americans. As such, they take a clue from the African-American civil rights movement of the '60s, trying to apply the mindframe of a Malcolm X (who gets name-checked several times) to their own situation. In "Rebel Music" they suggest you use the constitution "as toilet tissue cause ain't shit changed since 1964." No sir, these two are not afraid to stir things up a little bit: "Since we don't sit where decisions get made I wouldn't piss on a burning Bush to extinguish the flames Axis of evil, jihad and crusades So who's saints? Sadam got napalm and things while we build nukes talking disarmament To you my religion is seen as voodoo Fuck you, I'll consider Christ when your pope is Desmond Tutu" Anti-establishment rants are the one recurring theme on "Wince at the Sun", but the Himalayan Project shouldn't be reduced to a couple of leftist lunatics. Maybe they make one too many negative remarks about Christianity, and maybe there's a slight overabundance of side remarks about the evil powers that be, but the way they appropriate rap to reflect on their cultural heritage and to voice their political opinion is certainly too significant to dismiss them simply out of disagreement. Observations such as "someone once said America's a melting pot / the people at the bottom get burned while the scum always seem to float to the top," or "I was nurtured in a cultural slum where mediocrity's an artform for some / so most smoke stoges, drink rum, waitin' for the day when their ulcer comes" shed light on a social and cultural reality that rap music has never shied away from dealing with. And anybody listening to the title track will be stunned how topical their comments on the issue of Iraq are. The Chinese half of HP, Rainman, may not be as sharp-tongued as his partner in rhyme, but his self-description as "Invisible Man, the South-Asian Ralph Emerson" is just as telling as Chee Malabar's demagogics. Who, in turn, taking a clue from Boots Riley, tests his penmanship with the "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night"-type narrative "The Wrath of Lomas". Also, check his verbal workout in "The Passion": "Pac's for the thugs and Hova's for the clubs I'm the one you forgot while you was lickin they nuts Fuck, don't get it twisted, I list 'em as favorites too but radio's killin my patience like Jack Kevorkian [...] I make racially all-inclusive music Make that dude Clue scream: 'Exclusive new shit!' Using booze as acoustics to talk shit, then come clean like a gargle with Metamucil Massing-gel your bitch-ass attitude so you can do shit Truth is, I been had _Juice_ since nine-deuce, before Bishop made moves to push Q off a roof swift This is for my sweatshop folks stitchin' swooshes My D-Flo funk steelo, and Scott's and Haysoos's With a window to the world sharin' what they views is I'm a brown man in a white man's world tryin' to find myself through black music" Last but not least, Rainman and Chee also take time to straight get nasty, dropping lines like "most of these music dudes get no respect / y'all can eat a fat dick, then floss with the pubes that's left," or "you don't want a rhubarb with these two vets / when I wrote my first rhyme you was two blue bars on a bitch's EPT test." But in the end, it's the overall musical mastery displayed in vocal tracks ("Capital C") as well as in instrumentals ("Rebel's Last Dance") that elevates this release into the upper echelon. Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10 Originally posted: December 23, 2003 source: www.RapReviews.com - Rapreviews.com


Discography

The Middle Passage- 2001
Wince at the Sun- 2003
Broken World-2007

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Bio

MCs Chee Malabar and Rainman of the Himalayan Project represent the evolving voice of the hip-hop generation. The duo's personal narrative takes listeners from Bombay to New York, with stops in China, Europe, San Francisco and South America. From the first generation to the second and beyond, their story is America's Next set over a hip-hop soundscape.

Himalayan Project's latest full-length effort, contains songs ranging from socially conscious to battle to conceptual. The intellectual content of their songs defines the Himalayan Project, as their lyrics have found their way into the curriculum for university classes that focus on South-Asian identity and pop culture. The Himalayan Project's lyrics have also been cited in Samar Magazine and PhD dissertations on hip-hop's influence on the formation of South-Asian identity in America.

To further spread the group's message, the Himalayan Project was featured in the hip-hop documentary "Brown Like Dat", by NYU Film School student Raeshem Nijhon, who documents South Asian participation in hip-hop.

When did the Himalayan journey begin? Rainman and Chee Malabar founded the Himalayan Project in 1994, while attending high school in San Francisco, CA. The group's name pays homage to their ancestral roots in India and China-the Himalayan Mountain Range straddles the borders of both countries.

By 1998, Rainman and Malabar developed reputations for ripping mics on their respective college campuses-UC Irvine and Penn St.-and decided to collaborate on a 4-track demo. The demo featured beats courtesy of DJ Cheapshot, who has produced tracks for artists such as the Beastie Boys, Linkin Park and Styles of Beyond. The demo laid the foundation for the bicoastal sound the Himalayan Project would develop over the years.